Jerusalem Municipality refutes report that cable car will show ‘who really owns this city’

“The project is an integral part of the mayor’s vision to link sites holy to the three monotheistic religions: Muslim, Christian, and Jewish alike," says municipality.

Cable cars [Illustrative] (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Cable cars [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The Jerusalem Municipality has denied a report in Thursday’s Haaretz claiming that Mayor Nir Barkat recently asserted that a proposed cable car in the capital, with a stop in east Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood, will clarify “who really owns this city.”
In the article, Haaretz wrote that a video shows Barkat speaking at a Likud gathering, where he stated that the cable car – which has yet to be approved by the Transportation Ministry – will be instrumental in increasing tourism to the beleaguered capital.
Plans for the project, announced in 2013, proposed a 1.6-km. route capable of transporting 6,000 passengers per hour, with the goal of connecting the Old City to the Mount of Olives and the Khan Theater, including a stop at Dung Gate, adjacent to Silwan.
“Without the infrastructure of trains, cable cars and so forth, we won’t be able to experience this unique experience,” Barkat is quoted as saying in Hebrew at the gathering.
“To bring the wider world to understand who really owns this city – all this infrastructure is intended for that.”
It is the latter sentence that lit a firestorm.
On Thursday, the municipality contended that Haaretz took Barkat’s words out of context.
“The mayor’s comment, better translated as ‘who built this house,’ was made in reference to an ancient promenade which served millions of Jews on their way to the Temple more than two millennia ago, underscoring 3,000 years of Jewish history in Jerusalem,” the municipality said in a statement.
“The cable car project is currently being developed by urban planners as a part of Jerusalem’s revolutionary transportation system. When finalized, the detailed plans for the project will be subject to all relevant zoning processes.”
Moreover, the municipality said Barkat intends to utilize the proposed cable car to unite the capital’s monotheistic populations, not create more division.
“The project is an integral part of the mayor’s vision to link sites holy to the three monotheistic religions – through light-rail lines and rapid-transit systems – which will enable safe, fast, and efficient travel for millions of tourists and pilgrims: Muslim, Christian and Jewish alike,” the statement said.
Nonetheless, in May 2013, shortly after plans to build the expansive cable car were announced, a Transportation Ministry official dismissed the project as “unrealistic.”
The official, who requested anonymity, said that the figures provided by the municipality were grossly inflated, adding that the cable line was not considered a serious project.
“This is not a proposal, it’s nothing more than an idea, if that,” the official said. “The [transportation minister] has yet to review this project, and there’s no way such a cable car could transport as many people as the municipality is claiming. It’s a big exaggeration.”
Still, Barkat contends that the cable-car system would be instrumental in assisting the city to accommodate millions of more visitors to the Western Wall and the Old City each year.
“Beyond being a transportation solution, a cable car will be an innovative and unique tourist attraction, and offer breathtaking views of the city,” said Barkat when the project was announced. “It will also strengthen and increase the number of tourists arriving in Jerusalem.”